Rising land temperature is real, according to a study. A climate skeptic has conduced several studies looking into temperature data collected by weather stations over the past half-century and has concluded that climate change is real.
To be clear, the findings discussed below haven’t been peer-reviewed.
Phil Plait at Discover magazine reiterates the early nature of the papers:
"Because of that, the results need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, due to the nature of the study’s foundation and funders, which I will get to in a moment, the results are most definitely news-worthy."
The Berkeley group submitted four scientific papers for peer review and expects it to be part of the body of work in the next IPCC report on Climate Change.
The Berkeley Earth Project (BEP) looked at land temperature since the mid-1950s. Berkeley Earth's founder and director Richard A. Muller said:
"Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the U.S. and the U.K. This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that the potential biases identified by climate change skeptics did not seriously affect their conclusions."
Muller is a physicist at the University of California, Berkley, who had a reputation for being a climate change skeptic, says his studies back up the work of previous groups. The study used five times as many station locations: Using over 39,000 stations and combining data sets of 1.6 billion temperature reports from 16 publicly available data archives, the scientists were able to avoid station selection bias.
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was created to make sense of global temperature change, with the world's most comprehensive set of data. Previous global warming studies by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research in Britain have found that global land temperature rise has increased by 1.2 degrees C from the 1900s to now.
Muller previously said in a testimony to congress in March that "based on the preliminary work we have done, I believe that the systematic biases that are the cause for most concern can be adequately handled by data analysis techniques."
The rise in temperature since the mid-1950s, most climate scientists say, is in part due to carbon dioxide emissions from human activities.
Muller also said in his testimony that the number attributed to human caused global warming, which is around 0.6 degrees, needs to be improved. "Berkeley Earth is working to improve on the accuracy of this key number by using a more complete set of data, and by looking at biases in a new way," he adds.
Some of the findings in the studies have been posted online:
- While urban land heat does occur, it doesn't really add to the average land temperature rise.
- Yes, a third of temperature sites reported a period of cooling over the last 70 years. This leaves the other two-thirds though, which reported warming.
- Weather stations ranked as poor showed the same pattern of stations that are considered okay. "Absolute temperatures of poor stations may be higher and less accurate, but the overall global warming trend is the same and the Berkeley Earth analysis concludes that there is not any undue bias from including poor stations in the survey," according to the study.
The Berkeley collaborators include Saul Perlmutter, who won a Nobel Prize in Physics. Using the same skills the physicist used to discover that the universe is expanding, Perlmutter and other astrophysicists and particle physicists in the group will analyze the massive weather data set.
Next, Muller wants to study the ocean temperature to build a more complete view of rising temperatures.
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